Thursday, February 17, 2011

Broke Garden Ground

I have been working on removing sod to a new patch of the garden all winter but yesterday I started breaking the ground on the part of the garden I had last year. What a difference a year makes. Turning the soil on the new ground I am breaking is backbreaking work but the area of of garden that I worked last year is amazing! The soil in the old garden is weed and rock free because I spent a lot of time last year taking care of it. The mulch I used last year really paid off, not just because it kept the weeds at bay but also because it added much needed organic material.

Last year I had my garden plowed by a neighbor but this year I'm doing the entire thing by hand. There are several reasons why gardening without mechanization is good not just for the garden but for the gardener as well.

1. It is good for the garden because it prevents compaction which is good for the microbes in the soil. It increases air in the soil which not only means more oxygen but also more nitrogen because air has a higher percentage of nitrogen than it does oxygen.

2. It is good for the plants because it gives the plants room to grow so their roots can search for needed nutrients.

3. Without the hard-pan, the soil is well drained preventing wet feed for the plants.

4. The gardener is benefited by the exercise that working in the garden gives him or her.

5. Healthier plants that are grown on this type of soil. Because the plants are healthier, the gardener who eats it is healthier.

Started The arden today

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ready To Do Some Spring Cleaning!

Last week the temperatures hovering around zero and there was snow on the ground. This week so far we've had days in the upper sixties during the day. The skies are clear. The March winds seem to be upon us a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. This change in the weather is giving me a desire to begin my spring cleaning.

So far this week I have been trying to get caught up with the housework that I didn't get done last week when it was so cold. After today I'll be able to begin and I think I'll begin by washing curtains and the windows. I've been sitting here at the window looking out at the nearby field and have noticed just how dirty the windows have gotten. The ash from the wood stove is all over everything in the house so I can't get too carried away with the cleaning just yet but windows and curtains I think would be a good place to begin and brighten up the house after this long winter.

To wash my clothes I've been using homemade laundry detergent which is a lot less expensive and seems to wash my clothes better than the detergent I used to buy at the store. It's easy to make. If you'd like to try, check out my article about it. Click here

Washing windows can be done using natural ingredients too! A simple spray on cleaner can be made by making a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 10-5 parts water. Put the vinegar water solution into a recycled spray bottle and you've got a green window cleaner. Old timers used newspapers to dry the windows instead of paper towels. I've tried it and if you don't mind a little newsprint on your hands, this is another green tip you can use. To find out about more uses for vinegar for cleaning check out my article: Green Your Clean with Vinegar!

Monday, February 7, 2011

When Simply Living Isn't So Easy

Snow has been covering most of the Northern Hemisphere and we too have our share of snow right now. It was pretty the first couple of days but now I'm ready for spring. Puncsetany Phil didn't see his shadow but winter hasn't seemed to listen and taken an even firmer grip.

Hanging out laundry on the clothes line has been more of a challenge. Any time that there's even a hint of sunshine, I do a load of laundry and hang it out on the line. I just do one load at a time though. The weather can change so quickly. Take yesterday for example. The sky was clear when I hung the load out but before it could get dry, it started to drizzle. I brought the clothes in and hung them on the clothes bars in front of the wood stove. During the evening I removed the dry clothes and folded and put them away. This morning I folded the last of the load and put them and the clothes bars away. Any further laundry will need to wait because it is snowing this morning.

Fortunately for me, I live in this part of Missouri. We don't get the snow that they get up north. My laundry isn't that far behind. One good day and I can get it caught up again. Hang out clothes while the sun shines is definitely a practice I have learned to keep.

This winter I have been enjoying the fruits of my labors from last summer. We've used up all of our canned green beans. Yesterday I enjoyed drinking a can of the tomato juice that I canned. It was so much better than the stuff I've bought in the grocery store. It doesn't have all the salt in it so I can taste the sweet tomato flavor. It's sad in a way that the lines of filled jars is disappearing but disappear they should. Next summer the process of canning fruits and vegetables start over again. It is all part of the cycle of the seasons.

There are some things that I have on the shelves that are not getting eaten however. The pickles that I canned don't seem to taste very good. It's not so much the flavor as the texture of the pickles don't seem to be right. The only home canned pickles that I have really liked were some crock pickles that a friend and I made some years back. Perhaps I'll try those.

The sweet potatoes that I planted to create slips to plant in the garden is growing well. I counted five slips so far. One of the vines is already quite long. During the day I put the pot, in which the sweet potatoes are growing, into the south facing window so it can get some sun. At night I move it away from the window to keep it from getting too cold. I look forward to when I can get more started for my garden.